Okay–does anybody remember that scene from Romancing the Stone, after the Angelina part, where we see Kathleen Turner wandering around her apartment in her pajamas and socks, looking for tissue so she could blow her nose?
I wish that’s what happened when I finished my Christmas novel, HomeBird, this Friday night.
Instead, I whipped off a missive to my editor that said it was done and it was still technically the 15th, so I was good. Then I crawled into bed and half-slept through plans to beef up the ending. Then I woke up to my beta reader telling me to beef up the ending. Then I frantically beefed up the ending until it was time to get ready to take the kids to recital.
Now, this year’s recital was particularly poignant–Joanna, the woman in charge, who has been in charge for the last twenty-five years, and who has known Chicken since she was four–has just bested cancer, and her livelihood has been in the hands of former students, who carried her classes and planned the recital and basically just picked her up and carried her, because she’s done so much for them and their kids and their community.
It was beautiful–but it was also… smaller than usual.
She’d lost some students this year.
So on the one hand, it was just as hectic and just as whoa! as it has been other years, but there was an undercurrent of, “It’s been so much harder other years,” too. Right down to the weather. I mean, it was lovely–lower eighties, both days. Usually it’s 110. No lie.
And into this, there’s me.
I’m sleep deprived, I’m dreamy–I’m still in Joan Wilder’s Angelina land–and I’m just not ready to deal with other people’s children.
I mean, I think I did okay–but at one point I looked at a hyperactive little girl who was DONE, just like I was, and said, “You know, it’s a good thing you and I are done after this, or I would roast you like a duck.”
She said nothing–just got down off the pole she was trying to climb and looked at me with big eyes. I’m sure she hated me–but you know, I can live with that.
Anyway– I must not have been too whacko, because I got a hug from my co-mom, and that doesn’t happen often. (There is a weird alpha-dog thing that goes on backstage about who has known Joanna longer and whose kids can get away with the most. I don’t play alpha dog, I play whatever-cat, and in this case, my co-mom was another whatever-cat. We got along fine.)
Anyway–I got to see two of my kids’ performances (this wasn’t going to happen this year–we were forbidden from that part of backstage, and then people cried. Okay, I cried. I’m not sure about anybody else. I cried. Part of that was tiredness and stress, and part of it was not seeing my kids perform when hey, I was there for just that reason!) and anyway Squish was radiant and sweet, and ZB… well, he’s sort of becoming an amazing dancer.
I also watched him flirt with the entire backstage. And he combed his hair.
And Chicken was stage manager again–and she really is amazing. This year people started doing the job she’d had before, and they needed three people to BE her. She was like, “Yes, you need to move that fast!” and they were like, “Wait–we need help!”
That was fun.
Also fun–this was actually pretty hilarious–was the mom’s meeting when kids were gathering on stage.
JoAnna said, “Are all the moms here?”
“No,” I said. “We’re missing X, Y, and Z.”
“Are they here yet?”
“Nope, still missing–no I don’t know where they are.”
A few moms got there, and Joanna said, “So do we have everybody now? Wait! Where’s Amy Lane?”
Now, I’m not a small person. You’ve seen pictures. And I was standing six feet in front of her.
“I’m RIGHT HERE!” I cried, and she cracked up and hugged me.
This is particularly funny because she gets Squish and Chicken mixed up constantly. It’s like my family can’t win. But we all agree ZB is her favorite of the five Lane family members she actually knows. She used to get frustrated because she thought he spent all his time at the zoo when she was talking. Now she realizes that he was only at the zoo some of the time. Most of the time he was calmly processing EVERYthing she told him, and came back next week with stuff fixed. He was supposed to have two solos this year, but we went away back east when she was writing the show, and he had to make do with one. Like I said, he was amazing.
So, in general, it was a good year.
But I’m wishing Joanna all the health in the world this year. Next year, I want to see more kids and more parents and more audience members.
Easier isn’t always better, you know?